Hoping to breathe life into his struggling campaign challenging Arizona Sen. John McCain, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth on Monday pledged to serve just two terms while fighting illegal immigration and government regulations.
Hayworth’s “contract with Arizona” largely rehashes the proposals he’s been advocating since entering the race in February. It includes promises to oppose measures granting “amnesty” to illegal immigrants and to support legislation repealing or defunding a health care overhaul approved earlier this year.
Hayworth is a former six-term congressman who lost to a Democrat in 2006. His platform includes promises to support an audit of the Federal Reserve, a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget and a permanent extension of tax cuts signed by former President George W. Bush.
“It’s important to offer the people of Arizona a plan, an agenda, for what will transpire as I begin service in the United States Senate,” Hayworth said at a news conference outside his campaign headquarters in a north Phoenix strip mall.
Hayworth promised to serve just 12 years before giving up his seat. He called the latest pledge “an iron-clad term limit,” despite his decision to seek a seventh House term in 2006 after earlier supporting six-term limits for House members.
A former television sportscaster, Hayworth was first elected to the U.S. House as part of a Republican wave in 1994. The GOP took control of the chamber for the first time in decades after the party promised a series of reforms outlined in a “contract with America.”
Hayworth lags McCain in fundraising and has struggled in polls after the incumbent began airing television commercials highlighting Hayworth’s role pitching a disgraced company that promised “free government money.”
With election day three weeks away and thousands of mail-in ballots already in voters’ hands, Hayworth is in a last-minute sprint to boost his support.
In a statement, McCain spokesman Brian Rogers called Hayworth’s plan “nothing more than a patchwork of failed legislative proposals from his own past, ideas stolen from other politicians, and initiatives that Sen. McCain and his colleagues are already pursuing.”
Hayworth last month launched a television advertising blitz slamming McCain for working on an immigration overhaul measure that would have created a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
The effort is part of Hayworth’s attempt to refocus the campaign on illegal immigration instead of Hayworth’s infomercial.
At his news conference Monday, Hayworth also announced the support of 16 tea party groups — a move that pokes holes in McCain’s argument that Hayworth has been rejected by the movement of voters angry with growing government spending.
Still, the endorsements represent just a handful of the dozens of civic groups around Arizona that identify with the tea party’s message advocating limited government, fiscal restraint and free markets.
Earlier Monday, McCain’s campaign announced support from the leaders of two Arizona tea party groups. And in March, four of Arizona’s largest tea party organizations made a high-profile announcement that they would stay out of the McCain-Hayworth fight.